On Chief Architect Kasim Agha and his WaqfAysu Ateş
In the architectural environment of the 17th century, where the relations between art and politics were intertwined, one of the most striking people was Architect Kasim Agha. Kasim Agha, who participated in palace intrigues rather than architecture and established relations with political figures such as the queen mother, grand vizier, and sultan’s hodja, played a role in 17th-century Ottoman political life with his efforts to bring Köprülü Mehmed Pasha to the grand vizierate. Kasim Agha, who left the chief architect in 1651 and became the kethüda (chamberlain) of Turhan Sultan, found a place in the Ottoman chronicles due to her political relations. However, he is among the important architectbuilders of the century, within the framework of the financial power he acquired, as he built a darülhadis in Istanbul and built complexes, fountains, inns, bridges, and waterways in the Balkans. The study focuses mainly on his waqf dated 1641, and in addition to the structures he built, the architect’s origin, his mansion, his family members, his architecture, and his political struggles are examined. In the study, which is based on Kasim Agha’s waqf, Ottoman archive documents, Ottoman chronicles, and kadi registers, Kasim Agha’s life was tried to be illuminated in various aspects.
Mimarbaşı Kasım Ağa ve Vakfı ÜzerineAysu Ateş
Sanat ve siyaset ilişkilerinin içe içe geçtiği 17. yüzyılın mimarlık ortamında, çağın dikkat çeken isimlerinden birisi Mimar Kasım Ağa’dır. Mimarlıktan ziyade saray entrikalarına katılan ve devrin siyasi otoritesini temsil eden valide sultan, sadrazam ve padişah hocası gibi kişiler ile yakın ilişki kuran Kasım Ağa, yakın dostu Köprülü Mehmed Paşa’yı sadarete getirme yönündeki çabalarıyla Osmanlı siyasetinde de etkin rol oynamıştır. 1651 yılında başmimarlığı bırakarak Valide Hatice Turhan Sultan’ın kethüdası olan Kasım Ağa, siyasi bağları sebebiyle Osmanlı kroniklerinde geniş yer bulmuştur. Siyasal nüfuzunun da etkisiyle zamanla edindiği maddi güç sayesinde başkent İstanbul’da kendi adına bir dârülhadis ve kökeninin dayandığı Balkanlarda külliye, çeşmeler, han, köprü ve suyolları inşa ettirmesi dolayısıyla aynı zamanda yüzyılın mimar-banileri arasındadır. 1641 yılında kendi adına vakıf kuran Kasım Ağa’nın ağırlıklı olarak vakfiyesi üzerinden ele alındığı bu çalışmada, inşa ettiği yapıların yanı sıra, mimarın kökeni, İstanbul’daki konağı, aile üyeleri, mimarlık süreci ve siyasi mücadeleleri incelenmiştir. Kasım Ağa Vakfiyesi, Osmanlı arşiv belgeleri, vakayinameler ve kadı sicillerine dayanarak Kasım Ağa’nın yaşamı çok yönlü olarak irdelenmeye çalışılmıştır.
Negative political developments in the Ottoman Empire in the 17th century caused the state’s administrative mechanism to be damaged. Since the beginning of the century, Mahpeyker Kösem Sultan and Hadice Turhan Sultan took over the state administration as the sultan’s representatives at certain intervals due to the inexperienced and young sultans. Therefore, people who were close to the queen’s mother, especially the eunuchs, also directly participated in the palace intrigues. What is interesting is that among these people were the chief architects of the century such as Kasım Agha and Mustafa Agha. Architects such as Kasım Agha gained the power to be influential in the appointment of grand viziers, and in time they turned into political architectural figures. This situation also reflects the changing position of the Ottoman chief architect in the palace.
The participation of Ottoman architects in the political games of the age is directly related to the authority vacuum that occurred in the administration. As a matter of fact, during the reign of Sultan Ahmed I (1603-1617) and at the end of the reign of Sultan Murad IV (1623-1640), in the years when the state administration was strong due to the sultans in the reign, the intrigues of the architects are not mentioned. The role of architects in palace life coincides with the period when the sultan’s administrative power weakened and the queen’s mothers were administratively active.
Architect Kasim Agha is undoubtedly one of the most controversial and uncertain historical figures among the Ottoman chief architects due to his interest in politics. Architect Kasim Agha, who had a close relationship with the political figures of the period such as the mother queen, the grand vizier, and the sultan’s hodja, distinguishes him from other architects of his time with his stubborn personality and incredible courage. Contrary to the Ottoman chief architects, who are generally rarely included in the works of Ottoman chroniclers, Kasim Agha found wide coverage due to his active role in political life. Ottoman historian Naîmâ Mustafa Efendi said that Kasim Agha was the weird of the era with his ambition for the World. Kasim Agha’s dominance in political life outweighed his architectural identity and played a decisive role in the political relations of the period due to his determined and stubborn temperament. Although he was the chief architect for the first time during the reign of Sultan Murad IV (1623-1640), he participated in the palace intrigues during the reign of Sultan Ibrahim I (1640-1648) and Sultan Mehmed IV (1648-1687) when the administration weakened.
Undoubtedly, the changing political conditions of the era caused Kasim Agha to play an active role as an architect-politician in the relations of the period. After the death of Sultan Ahmed I (1603-1617) in the 17th century, the administrative turmoil caused by the constant change of throne in the Ottoman sultanate hurt the Ottoman Guild of Architects, which worked directly under the palace, and the chief architect, who was in charge of the organization. With the end of Sedefkar Mehmed Agha’s chief architect at about the same time as Sultan Ahmed’s death, the main structure of the Ottoman Guild of Architects began to weaken rapidly. Since 1617, chief architects were dismissed many times and brought back to the same position. This change, which took place after Sedefkâr Mehmed Agha’s chief architect at the Ottoman Guild Architects ended, experienced the second breaking point, especially when Kasim Agha was appointed chief architect. As can be observed in the life of Kasim Agha, the interest of architects in politics increased and architects began to be mentioned in the political games of the palace. For this reason, his chief architect was interrupted in the process due to his political relations and did not follow a stable course. In other words, his chief architect followed a course of development that was intertwined with his political life and was constantly influenced by each other.
The waqf of Kasim Agha registered as Defter-i Evkaf-ı Mimarbaşı Kasım Ağa, was issued on March 12, 1641 and is a very valuable historical document in that it contains many details about the artist. Kasim Agha’s “Defter-i Evkaf-ı Mimarbaşı Kasım Ağa” waqf, dated Zilkade 29, 1050/March 12, 1641, is currently located in the Ankara General Directorate of Land Registry and Cadastre’s Kuyud-ı Kadime Archives, Vakf-ı Cedit, number 62. In this context, the origin of Kasim Agha, his family members, his mansion, the officials of the waqf, the fees they received, the architectural works of the waqf, the functioning of the waqf and the expenses of the waqf were mainly examined according to his waqf. In addition, the works of Ottoman historians, Ottoman archive documents, and kadı registers were used in the study, and the structure that he might have built was mentioned by name, and new findings about the Architect Kasim Agha were tried to be presented.